Bulgaria Constitutional Court overturns provision banning retirees from civil service

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court has ruled to overturn a provision in the 2019 Budget Act that would prevent civil servants that have exercised their right to draw a state pension from continuing to hold positions in the state administration.

This was one of two provisions in the Budget challenged by President Roumen Radev in December 2018, followed by a separate challenge from Bulgaria’s Ombudsman Maya Manolova in January.

Both Radev and Manolova argued that the amendments to the Civil Service Act, included in the transitional and final provisions of the Budget Act, breached the rule of law and social state principles in the country’s constitution.

The court ruled that a public servant that exercised their right to a state pension did not breach the other requirements set out in the Civil Service Act, nor could be considered incompatible for holding a civil service post.

A state of incompatibility limited an individual rights and could only be legislated based on defending another “constitutionally-significant interest”, the court said. The government’s desire to open positions in the civil service to “young highly-qualified candidates” did not meet that requirement, according to the court decision.

On the other provision in the Budget Act challenged by Radev, namely the one that would prevent any revenue generated by the Sofia Airport concession from going to the so-called “silver fund” – set up in 2006 as a reserve for the country’s pension system, to be used at a future date to cover any shortfalls in the pension system – the court ruled against the presidential appeal.

Radev argued that Parliament’s decision to divert the up-front fee – expected to be in excess of 500 million leva, which the Government plans to use to modernise the rolling stock and pay off outstanding debts of state railways BDZ – put in doubt the long-term execution of the fund’s purpose.

The court said that the “silver fund” was only one part of the pension system and Parliament was within its rights to create exceptions to the rule that all concession revenue was to be deposited in the fund, especially since it was a one-off occurrence.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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